A Demon in My Way

February 14, 2012
By , Newton, MA
It really is a simple thing, I thought as I lay reading my book on the Atkins diet. Food is a simple thing for most people. My mind wandered to a conspiracy theory on the Internet that asked the onlooker, “What if food is a drug and our bodies are so addicted to it, we die if we don’t eat it?” Although this was obviously in jest, an idea was planted deep in the core of my mind. No matter how I looked at myself, I saw no way out of it. It is not simply enticing every boy around me. I am a beautiful person already, but staying that way could be compared to proving electrons have mass. No one tells you how hard it is. In a world replete of aesthetes, I have found my demon. A demon that keeps my life from spiraling into swirl of eddies.

The little monster who lives in my core knows which way the world turns. He knows how high the malnourished will fly and how fast the plummet on the way back down will be. My demon knows what obscene nutrients one puts in his or her body. He knows that the longer I wait for my meal the more beautiful I will become. Hunger is a clandestine condition. Anyone of my friends could have their very own monster tormenting his or her bowels endlessly and not give the slightest hint of an inner plague. A demon has a set of tools that he will use to plant the tree that is his dominance. He has a spade to dig out desire and to situate willpower into the subconscious. He has shears to sever the roots of independent thought polluting the mind. Each tree is hidden in secrecy, surrounding my demon who sits in his timber throne. My demon has, and always will, take care of me. He is a malevolent spirit, but he is on my side; I would gladly suffer a world of demons to become an angel. I am helped just as much as I am hurt, and I thank my demon for his services.

As I read, the fiend inside me commenced his daily beating in my abdomen. “Not now” echoed through the caverns of my mind. I felt the far too familiar pain as my affliction surging through my every cell. My demon tried to force my poor, empty stomach to digest yet another accumulation of nothingness. I ignored his endless barrage of blows for giving in would ruin weeks of work, and weeks of pain. Not many know what it is like to be truly hungry. A person is meant to contain food and when barren, he or she will stoically stomach an explosion of starvation. We have conflicted emotions tainted by both hate and love for our parasite. They follow us everywhere. Every night, they whisper the evils of calories and the wonders of being skinny into the minds of the Hungry. My comforting bedroom, full of my favorite stuffed animals, suddenly transformed into a Siberian sunless dungeon around me. A punishing pain inundated my veins and I felt his blows, one after another until I could bear the pain no more. I needed to eat. He was still attacking me in an angry tirade of Hunger as I hobbled into the kitchen to assault my fridge. I was closer to food than I had been in an epoch. And God, did that yogurt taste good.

I only had enough food to make sure that I would not faint before our daily family dinner. Mom and Pop make me a meal every day: organic fruits and vegetables with lean cuts of meat. They cook it in the most calorie-friendly way, permitting my demon to give me a bite. But, when I eat it, my parents will remark sarcastically on how they will not have any leftovers, leaving my villain to return to his throne. The demon and I lustfully gaze at the profusion of cuisine set in front of me, expecting my willing consumption. How can I be asked to consume when food is so obviously a hindrance? As I look at my meal, I remember what I want to be: the essence of allure. No, I do not just want it. If maintaining beauty means that I do not always get to eat, then so be it. I think I can take the wrath of a demon.

That far too familiar jangle echoed out my phone: a noise that meant one thing and one thing only. Those skeletal ingrates I call parents were summoning me for a daily sacrifice they called dinner. At least I was alone, safe from slander when in my cell. I could predict my mother’s passive aggression just as much as my father’s blaming glare. Those were the fifteen minutes I spent my entire day dreading. Each dinner, my demon grows stronger and I grow weaker. They are when my demon can feed because I cannot. Sighing, I grind down the stairs and to follow my fate to a deafening silence.

Facing my parents, anything and everything made me want to retreat to my dark sanctuary. The quivering candle looked deep into my heart and winced at my fear. A wealth of leather bound books occupy their own cozy cells in a bookshelf. I take my seat at the circle of judgement and mentally prepare myself to stare at the mundane meal in front of me. That is all I can do: stare at this bewitchingly banal plate lolling before me. No one can understand the mixed emotions of those who Hunger when a meal is placed in front of him or her. I have decided. This prosaic feast will find its grave in my stomach. At this very thought, my demon ignited my stomach with fires of unknowing. My mother may try for another one of her infamous verbal right hooks that would blacken my soul for weeks, but right about now, I fancied some food.

My parents gasped as I inhaled the lean burger on a whole wheat bun. I could feel the gears in my mother’s brain turning, ambushed by her misjudgement, but I could not stop now. For each bite I wolfed down, my demon asphyxiated a little more. The pain of longing suddenly outweighed the appetite for attraction. Still speechless, my parents’ open mouths resembled the vast cavern that engulfed my demon. They did not understand what I had went through these years. The endless nights I spent with the company of some lone crickets and an empty stomach. My body ached and my soul throbbed. And after the short two minutes where I ravaged the burger, I knew my demons had vanished from my life at least until the next meal.

I do not pretend my demon has disappeared completely from my life. Any day, he may return to torment me more. It is the same for any anorexic. Each respective demon never leaves his throne completely, and the internal war that takes place while those who Hunger fight for control of their lives is just that: internal. I walk through school every day, knowing that my demon has melted into the ore of a malignant mineral that trickles through my arteries. If this cancerous rock embeds itself into my innermost thoughts again, I will revert. Know this when walking around school: you may see a stock, sunny me displaying some orthodontist’s hard work for the world to see. You may see me laughing life away in the euphoria that is found in a boyfriend’s arms. You might even see me nibbling at a bag of processed mess; but no matter how far an anorexic fights his or her demon, it will never completely fade into darkness. That ever present silhouette will haunt his or her dreams until, God forbid, their will caves in. Remember this and be careful with whom you are talking to about something so simple as food, for it may mean more than a world of demons to him or her.





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